Results tagged ‘ Jorge De La Rosa ’
New general manager Jeff Bridich, manager Walt Weiss and the front office he has put together are making quick work of assessing the Rockies’ roster. With the general managers meetings starting Monday in Phoenix, they must be prepared for talks with other clubs and negotiations with potential free agents.
I have no money for free agents. My front office staff consists of the birds and squirrels running around the neighborhood. So I’ll take some time to dig through the roster and bounce the ideas off you, the fans. Feel free to spend your lunch break (well, your work time, but we’ll keep that between us) walking through the tough Rockies questions with me.
Feel free to comment on Twitter: @harding_at_mlb
WARNING: There’s a lot here. The squirrels and birds crunched numbers and presented many scenarios. They’ve got a future in management.
Let’s look at the key question.
What type of pitching do the Rockies need to contend now and in the future?
Their last two playoff appearances could offer guidelines.
The Rockies went to the 2007 World Series based on pitching depth. They lost three of their five starters in August, and changed closers during the season, but developed and acquired good enough parts to stay in the race and win the National League Wild Card.
In 2009, they earned the NL Wild Card based on health and quality — five guys made all but eight starts, which mean they were whole enough and good enough to keep taking the ball. There was enough bullpen strength to withstand second-half injuries to lefty Alan Embree and closer Huston Street.
So, as trade rumors fly, it all comes back to the question: How close is Rockies’ pitching staff to the depth of 2007 and the quality of 2009?
That explains why the Rockies are listening to offers, not only for veteran first baseman Justin Morneau but for the very top guys on their payroll, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Let’s look at the rotation as it stands as the Rockies attempt to leap from 66-96 to contentions in the NL West:
Lefty Jorge De La Rosa is the clear leader. He’s by no means the equal of the front of the rotations of the defending NL West champion Dodgers or the World Series champ Giants, but not many folks can say they’ve thrived at Coors the way De La Rosa has.
Righty Jhoulys Chacin saw his 2014 limited to 11 starts by issues with his rotator cuff and labrum. Chacin, the club and doctors decided on rehab and strengthening rather than surgery. Success of the decision will depend on the effectiveness of his rehab, diligent maintenance and, to some degree, good fortune. Not impossible, but it’s a lot.
Righty Jordan Lyles and lefty Tyler Matzek, each 24, showed ability in their first seasons in Purple Pinstripes. Lyles went in with big-league time with the Astros. Matzek was making his debut. Can they go from developing talents to stalwarts? Once again, it’s asking a lot, but it’s not impossible.
Beyond those four, there are options but none that compare to the competition. Righty Christian Bergman has more heart than stuff, but is promising because of his brainpower and competitiveness. The prospects behind him all have questions. Righty Eddie Butler’s debut year was spoiled by shoulder pain. Righty prospect Jon Gray is coming off his first full pro season, and the Rockies were careful with him because of fatigue at the end. Lefty prospect Tyler Anderson finished the year with an elbow issue that he’s trying to rehab over the winter.
Now, let’s look at the bullpen:
Ageless LaTroy Hawkins returns as closer. With no big changes, it’s the same plan as last year – hope another option develops so Hawkins can pitch earlier in games.
Righty Adam Ottavino overcame a month of struggles impressively enough last season that the Rockies see a bright future. There’s still the need to improve against left-handed hitters. Who knows? Maybe if he finds the magic against lefties, he could slide into the ninth inning.
Lefty Rex Brothers went from a dazzling year in 2013 to a simply awful one in 2014. Part o the problem was the workload that fell to him when lefty Boone Logan was hampered by elbow issues throughout the first year of his three-year contract. The Rockies need rebounds from both.
Righty Tommy Kahnle stuck out the full year as a Rule 5 Draft pick and showed a workable fastball-changeup mix. He’ll need to take this year’s experience and show greater savvy to earn an increased role.
Beyond that are guys trying to establish themselves. Righty Brooks Brown’s control and ability to change speeds during his callups put him ahead of many pitchers who were on the staff the full year. The Rockies also hope for progress righty Juan Nicasio and lefty Christian Friedrich, who struggled as starters and were moved to the bullpen.
Weigh the dependable parts, the hopefuls and the holes, and you get a pitching staff that needs several quality pitchers in the rotation and the bullpen. Given that, how possible is it for the Rockies to contend in 2015? Are they prepared if they don’t content?
A fine piece yesterday from Dave Cameron of Fangraphs suggests that extending the $15.3 million qualifying offer to first baseman-outfielder Michael Cuddyer could be construed as part of rebuilding rather than an attempt to hold the current lineup together. Cuddyer gets a nice payday, and if the Rockies are struggling at the deadline he could be dealt.
But these are the Major Leagues, where the majority of teams are in position to at least dream at the deadline. While there is a future to contend with, I and the wildlife outside my door want the Rockies to have a fighting chance in the present.
So here are some questions:
Say the Rockies hold a strong lineup together and hold onto their big multi-year contracts, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. They could hope to receive a solid veteran for the starting rotation for Morneau. Then they could go bargain hunting via free agency for another starter – say righty Justin Masterson, who is trying to rebuild his value after a rough 2014, or lefty Brett Anderson or righty Aaron Harang, who have proven ability but questionable health histories.
Say the Rockies push hard to deal Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. Both are coming off shortened seasons because of surgeries, which might give other teams pause. The Rockies have said they will listen, and have given indications that clubs would have to make offers based on the players if healthy. Can they expect to receive star players who can rebuild the team?
Let’s say the Rockies seek immediate payroll relief, rather than star-for-star deals or situations where they’re eating huge portions of the salaries of Tulowitkzi and Gonzalez. This is where the dreams get big.
With the money saved, maybe they can’t land any of the big three free-agent starters — James Shields, Max Scherzer or Jon Lester — and second-tier starters such as Ervin Santana and Brandon McCarthy could be risky propositions at Coors Field. But how about catcher Russell Martin, who could have strong offense at Coors and help the young starters? How about a big offer to righty reliever Andrew Miller, who could be the closer immediately? Righty setup Luke Gregerson pitched for the Athletics last year, but he has a long history in the NL West based on his days with the Padres.
All this leaves the Rockies with tough decisions.
The feeling has been they want one more run with their lineup core, only with some pitching added. They will have to believe they can acquire enough pitching through dealing not just Morneau but two arbitration-eligible chips – catcher Wilin Rosario, who could be a fit as a catcher-designated hitter in the American League, and outfielder Drew Stubbs, who recaptured some of his run-producing potential with the Rockies.
To succeed, such a plan has to have the Rockies stay healthy in the rotation, contend enough to be able to make trades at next summer’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, and finish the year with a roster and payroll capable of succeeding in future years.
All this makes the big trade sounds attractive, but there are risks.
Any deal involving Tulowitzki or Gonzalez would leave a big hole. When healthy, they not only are All-Stars and offensive threats, but they’re Gold Glove Award types. Also, if the Rockies don’t eat salary, the return might be less than if they were more willing in that regard. They’d have to count on any position player having his stats enhanced at Coors Field, and any young pitcher being an immediate help — an iffy proposition, based on history.
Should the Rockies take the plunge and deal Tulowitkzi or Gonzalez, or both, they key is not stopping there. Some of the players who come in a trade may have to be spun to other teams, especially if they use hitting prospects they receive to pull in pitchers.
— Thomas Harding
Disclaimer: No indication Rockies owner can be swayed into dealing Tulo … Still, team has to be prepared if talks occur
We preface everything here with the simple statement, based on conversations with sources inside and outside the Rockies organization:
Owner Dick Monfort has no interest in trading shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at Thursday afternoon’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. The belief that a healthy Rockies club, with an improved rotation and a bullpen overhaul, is a winner next season means odds are against Monfort moving Tulowitzki — signed for extreme riches through 2020 — this offseason.
But the way to not get caught off guard is to be prepared, even if you know nothing may happen.
In the days leading to the Trade Deadline, the Rockies are getting ready for the magic phone call, even if it’s not coming.
The Rockies spent much of Monday studying the Mets organization, looking at current Major Leaguers and prospects, and gauging the abilities of young pitchers who have not reached their arbitration years. Any Mets pitcher who is anyone, whether he is working in Queens – like National League Rookie of the Year candidate Jacob deGrom – or prospects such as righty Noah Syndergaard (No. 1 on the MLB.com Mets Top 20 Prospects list) or Rafael Montero (No. 6), the Rockies are prepared to discuss. If the names of numerous position players come up, the Rockies are prepared.
But here’s the thing. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson on Monday said it is “unlikely” the team will make any deal, and sources throughout the game are saying it’s unlikely anything serious will occur with the Rockies. And, as can’t be stated enough, it’s all fantasy unless Monfort changes his belief that the Rockies will win with Tulowitzki.
But that’s the way these things work. Oh, it’s not only the Mets. We hear the Rockies have beefed up their knowledge on the Cardinals and the Angels – two teams with the money and Major League-ready players to make the Rockies’ baseball people at least listen if they were to call – and a few other teams that may have interest. Speaking of which, since Tulowitzki’s showing up at Yankee Stadium Sunday sparked so many conspiracy theories, we are told the Yankees are not one of the teams that the Rockies believe have players it takes to pull off a Tulowitzki deal.
There’s absolutely no indication either team will make that call before the deadline. Nonetheless, the Rockies want to have detailed information if talks ever begin.
Other fronts appear to be quiet, although there is interest.
• We recently identified the Pirates as a team that is taking a look at Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins, and now we’re told that 5-6 clubs are interested in Hawkins, knowing he can pitch in any situation. But two issues are making it hard to deal the 41-year-old reliever with the ageless right arm:
The Rockies believe his influence is strong enough on young players and young pitchers that they want to keep him around, even though the team is in last place.
The Rockies’ requirement for help at the start of next season, plus pitchers under club control applies to Hawkins. Teams in contention haven’t offered what the Rockies want.
• It’s doubtful the Rockies will move lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who has pitched better at Coors than any pitcher in their history. The Rockies have been listening when clubs inquire, but after it surfaced that the Rockies coveted Orioles righty Kevin Gausman and a whole haul of prospects, no other team’s interest made it to the rumor stage. Expect the Rockies to make the $14 million qualifying offer for De La Rosa, a free agent after this season, and use that as the basis for keeping him.
• While the Rockies have scouted lefty Brett Anderson since his return from a broken left index finger, there are no active discussions. The Rockies are expected to pick up Anderson’s $12 million option for next season.
— Thomas Harding
Rockies Tulowitzki does not have no-trade clause; talks are intriguing if not imminent (Also, a look at many possible Rockies deals)
Note to fans: I am having trouble with links in this post, so I’ll do it this way:
I refer to Joel Sherman’s exclusive in the New York Post: http://nypost.com/2014/07/24/mets-to-rockies-lets-talk-tulowitzki-cargo-trades/
And it would be good to review what I wrote yesterday: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/col/colorado-rockies-arent-in-active-talks-about-drew-stubbs?ymd=20140724&content_id=86148486&vkey=news_col
Thanks much. Now, for my blog post …
Contrary to what has been repeated in many reports, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki does not have a no-trade clause — at least not at this point — in his contract.
Going strictly by the contract language (and consulting with sources with direct knowledge of the contract), if traded, Tulowitzki would receive a $2 million bonus from the club he would land with, and only then would a no-trade provision go into effect. That is in addition to the five years and $104 million, plus incentives and escalators, left on his deal.
Now, from the standpoint that Tulowitzki is one of the game’s most-respected players and someone who has been through thick and a lot of thin with the Rockies, it stands to reason that if such a decision were made the club would at least listen to Tulowitzki’s preferences — especially if there were places he didn’t want to go. However, he does not have that right within his contract, and he is not a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the Majors with the last five with the team).
All that said, the chances are low that Tulowitzki would be dealt by next Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. Tulowitzki has said all along he doesn’t expect a deadline deal, and the more likely scenario is he would meet with his family and club officials after the season and get an idea of the team’s direction before deciding whether to press for a trade. Sources around the Majors say Rockies owner Dick Monfort’s position with them is the same as it is publicly — he is not seeking a deadline deal, and there is no guarantee he wants to make a deal even after the season.
Tulowitzki’s being on the 15-day disabled list with a hip flexor strain also complicates the chance of a deal now.
By the way, Major League sources say the Rockies aren’t anywhere close to dealing outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, a sublime talent who has dealt with injuries the last two years.
Given that, current trade rumors are to be seen as laying the groundwork for talks after the season.
Those talks could become really interesting. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote today that the Mets are interested in being players if the Rockies ever decided to deal Tulo or CarGo. Sherman names pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, plus outfielder Brandon Nimmo and infielder Dilson Herrera as players the Rockies like. Given the Rockies’ perpetual need and desire for young pitching, the names Syndergaard and Matz would make it hard for club officials to dismiss if talks were to become serious.
Of course, anything the Mets do is related to the Yankees. Sherman points out that Tulo’s love for Derek Jeter, the Yankees shortstop who must be replaced, and the fact the Rockies like the Yankees’ top pitching prospect, righty Luis Severino. And the Cardinals have been rumored as a possible trading partner since last winter.
In other developments:
–The same article by Sherman points out that the Rockies have had interest in Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and notes the Rockies have pieces the Yankees want – lefty starters Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Anderson, and catcher Wilin Rosario, who could preserve his bat and mitigate his defensive issues by being a designated hitter or playing another position. But we are told that the Rockies aren’t looking to deal Rosario before Thursday’s deadline.
But expect Rosario to be an offseason topic of conversation. The Rockies have been sticking with him, believing his power hitting can make up for defense that has been a work in progress ever since he was promoted from Double-A in 2011. However, the Rockies may be forced to re-think.
The pitching staff will continue to be young. Left-hander Tyler Matzek and right-handers such as Eddie Butler and Jon Gray (Matzek and Butler debuted this year, and Gray is on the radar) will be in the rotation sooner than later. Righties Jhoulys Chacin and Jordan Lyles have been around, but are in their 20s.
It might be time for a veteran catcher, or one with frontline all-around ability who is special at calling games, to trim the learning curve for the pitchers. Two examples come to mind: 1) Late in his career, Pudge Rodriguez went to the Marlins and later to the Tigers, teams that didn’t have recent histories of winning. He made a major difference to those young staffs, and the result was a World Series win wit the Marlins and a World Series appearance with the Tigers. 2) It’s hard to quantify but easy to appreciate the impact Russell Martin had last year with the Pirates, who ended a 20-year postseason drought with pitchers who needed help reaching their potential.
–The Rockies are in a quandary when it comes to dealing their own pitching. They want young pitching under club control, but what if the best bargaining chips are their own desirable pitchers.
The Rockies are listening to trade offers, but the price they’ve set with the Orioles shows that they’ll take only the cream of another team’s crop. But even if they receive pitchers with bright futures, is there any guarantee they’re going to have the present that De La Rosa has?
De La Rosa has been by far the Rockies’ best pitcher at Coors Field, and whether he qualifies as the best pitcher in club history is a growing debate. Dude is 42-14 at Coors Field. And he likes pitching there. After seeing top prospects — lefty Drew Pomeranz, now with the Athletics, is a clear example — flame out at Coors, who’s to say anyone else’s prospects are going to make it?
Maybe the Rockies take the plunge. Or maybe they are better off retaining De La Rosa, who is in the final year of his contract. The $11 million qualifying offer the Rockies would need to make to preserve the right to compensation in case3 he left is $3 million more than he is making. That could give them another year with De La Rosa, or it could be the basis for a longer-term deal for a pitcher who wants to be here.
–Everyone says the Rockies need starting pitching. Heck, the Rockies say it. That being the case, it’s puzzling to see lefty Brett Anderson’s name in possible trade reports, although teams would be sensible to check on his availability.
Anderson missed 16 starts with a broken left index finger, and injuries have been an issue throughout his career. But let’s look at his two starts since coming off the disabled list: 1) Clearly rusty and still with little experience at Coors Field, he gave up five runs in the first inning against the Twins at home in the final game before the All-Star break. But he got through six with just one additional run. 2) At Pittsburgh, lacking his best stuff, Anderson pitched with savvy and professionalism and held a lineup for a contending club to one run in seven innings.
Once again, do you trade this top-end ability for guys whose best may or may not arrive at all or may or may not arrive at Coors Field?
Of course, there is a money issue. Anderson has a $12 million club option for 2015, or a $1.5 million buyout. If the Rockies believe that they’re a good team that has been ruined by injuries, it stands to reason that they pay the money and hope to be healthy next season.
–Well, we’ve laid out how the Rockies are leaning against dealing Tulo and CarGo, are likely to wait until after the season to address the catching situation, and have plenty of reasons not to deal De La Rosa or Anderson. So where do they get the young pitching they crave?
They’ll listen when teams discuss outfielder Drew Stubbs. The Mariners are the hot rumor. Also, the Rockies will listen to offers for righty pitcher LaTroy Hawkins. But there will be debate about how much a team is willing to give up for Stubbs, whose home/road splits and low on-base percentage history are concerning, and Hawkins, who is fit and effective but also 41.
Still, being in a pennant race makes giving up valuable pitching prospects sound like a better idea. So we’ll see. If Stubbs or Hawkins don’t bring offers of top-level prospects, the Rockies still must listen. This year’s injuries exposed a startling lack of starting depth, and they have to get it from somewhere.
— Thomas Harding
DENVER — Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca has asked to be reassigned and the club granted him the request on Tuesday, MLB.com has learned.
The Rockies have yet to make a formal announcement. Sources with knowledge of the situation said Apodaca, pitching coach since 2003 — the first full year that Clint Hurdle managed the Rockies — made the request. Apodaca, 63, has yet to address the situation.
Apodaca, who remained the Rockies’ pitching coach after Jim Tracy took over during the 2009 season, was in street clothes in the Rockies’ coaching office while bullpen coach Jim Wright oversaw Juan Nicasio facing hitters at Coors Field. Nicasio is coming back from a strained left knee.
The Rockies rank last in baseball with a 5.29 ERA and the team is 28-44. Since last week, the club has gone to an unusual four-man pitching rotation under which starters are limited to 75 pitches. It’s an idea that has been discussed for several years at several points by the front office. Extreme difficulty pitching at home and short, ineffective work by the starters, brought about the implementation of the idea a week ago in Philadelphia.
Results have been mixed. Jeff Francis has had two strong starts in victories, but Alex White has pitched himself to a demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs, Christian Friedrich (who was to start Tuesday night against the Nationals) lost Friday against Texas in his first start under the new system, and Josh Outman couldn’t make it through five innings despite being given an early 10-run lead in the team’s win at Texas on Saturday.
Currently, there are three injured starting pitchers – lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery last year; righty Jhoulys Chacin, who struggled before a nerve issue in his chest was discovered, and Nicasio. Additionally, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was the Opening Day starter but he struggled so much in 11 starts (3-6, 7.20 ERA) that he was moved to the bullpen, where he has pitched well in long relief.
In another surprise move, the Rockies apparently have called up star Double-A lefty Edwar Cabrera, who had earned an invitation to the Sirius XM Futures game during All-Star weekend and last year led all of Minor League Baseball with 174 strikeouts. Cabrera is in line to start Wednesday against the Nationals.
Under Apodaca, the Rockies went to the World Series in 2007, had five 10-game winners in 2009 for the first time in club history and set club ERA marks in 2007 (4.32) and 2010 (4.22). The team has struggled on and off trying to find a way to thrive at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Since 2002, the baseballs have been stored in an atmosphere-controlled chamber to keep them from shrinking and becoming slippery in the mile-high atmosphere.
Apodaca previously served as pitching coach with the Mets and the Brewers.
More to come on MLB.com.
Rockies left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa was scheduled to fly to Denver on Saturday to have his left biceps check after tightness in the area flared during an injury rehab start in Salt Lake City on Friday night.
Head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said he was not alarmed by the latest issue with De La Rosa, who is returning from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Last month, the Rockies halted De La Rosa’s rehab assignment because of forearm tightness, something that often flares during a return from elbow surgery.
De La Rosa gave up four runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings of Triple-A Colorado Springs’ 6-5 loss to Salt Lake. De La Rosa struck out three, walked one and totaled 62 pitches, 36 strikes.
“I don’t know [the extent of the problem] because I haven’t seen him yet, but it’s just tightness,” Dugger said. “It’s probably inflamed somewhere right around the elbow. We’ll see how it is.”
Through two starts of his current rehab assignment, De La Rosa has a 9.45 ERA. More to come on www.coloradorockies.com .
The left forearm tightness that Rockies Jorge De La Rosa has experienced while working his way back from elbow surgery has led the team to halt his rehab assignment, the team announced Saturday.
Technically, the Rockies recalled De La Rosa from his 30-day rehab assignment, which would have expired on May 27 and would have had him targeted to start in the Manors against the Dodgers on June 2. De La Rosa is frozen for seven days, then can be placed on the DL for forearm tightness and begin a new 30-day window.
De La Rosa was 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA when he underwent Tommy John surgery. In an odd pattern, De La Rosa experienced no tightness when he began throwing during extended spring training at the team’s complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., and was fine during two rehab starts at Class A Modesto. But De La Rosa’s first start at Double-A Tulsa on May 12 limited him to one inning. He threw four innings Thursday and experienced tightness at the end.
A frustrated De La Rosa at Coors Field on Saturday angrily threw his T-shirt at the end of a workout, but calmed down and said he understood.
“It’s very disappointing,” said De La Rosa, who would have started at Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday. “I pitched good last time but I felt a little tightness. They want me to pitch more time in the Minors. I have to do whatever they want.
“I want to be here, but like they say, I need more time. I have to pitch more, build more pitches, to be ready to be here. They want to make sure everything is OK. It hasn’t been a year since I had the surgery. They know how hard it is.”
Had De La Rosa made the June 2 target date, he would have been back a year short of the date of last year’s surgery. But rarely does a comeback from Tommy John surgery go so smoothly.
“I still don’t think that this is any big thing,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “It’s just another avenue in the road that you have to go down as you’re recuperating.”
Going into the season, the Rockies were hoping for solid work from a relatively young rotation that would get a lift from De La Rosa’s return. Jeremy Guthrie, a veteran added during the winter, missed three starts in April and May with a shoulder injury. Jhoulys Chacin, expected to make major strides, tried to pitch through shoulder tightness, performed badly and hasn’t pitched in a game since May 1. Now on the disabled list, Chacin isn’t throwing because he needs to strengthen his shoulder.
For the Rockies to turn the corner after their 15-23 start going into Saturday’s game with the Mariners, much of the responsibility falls to three young pitchers, second-year righty Juan Nicasio and two rookies, righty Alex White and lefty Christian Friedrich, who was set to start Saturday. Guthrie and lefty Jamie Moyer are the staff’s veterans.
The Rockies could use one more bat, specifically at second base. The Braves need a left fielder. None of this has changed since the offseason began and reports surfaced of the possibility of the Rockies sending left-handed hitting outfielder Seth Smith to Atlanta for right-handed hitting infielder Martin Prado. Dialogue between the teams continued through last week, and word Monday was the possibility of a trade remains alive.
The frontburner issue for the Braves appears to be seeing what kind of package they can receive for right-handed starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens, a move that could fill other needs.
The Rockies reached a three-year, $31.5 million agreement with former Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer last week, and are in position to deal Smith.
The Rockies’ main need is a durable starting pitcher, but they have shown no interest in dealing the multiple prospects that many teams require for such a deal. So adding another bat at second base, where the Rockies for now have a possible combination of former first-round Draft pick Chris Nelson and solid multi-position man Jonathan Herrera, has risen to the top of the pecking order.
It would be yet another roadblock for Nelson, who took awhile to find his legs as a professional but has earned compliments from manager Jim Tracy for his work ethic. If such a deal occurs, Nelson could get his chance at third base — if hot prospect Nolan Arenado needs more time to develop. Arenado put up dominant numbers in Class-A last year and in the Arizona Fall League, and will be given a shot to make the Majors this spring.
As for the pitcher, the Rockies would like to re-sign veteran righty Kevin Millwood, who displayed leadership — not only on the mound, but with his preparation between starts — that could help a mostly young starting staff. While it would be nice to add a 200-innings stalwart, it doesn’t look possible on the trading market, it’s cost-prohibitive in free agency, and might not be necessary. A veteran hurler who can stabilize the pitching until left-hander Jorge De La Rosa returns in May or June from Tommy John surgery might be good enough to keep the club in good position in the National League West.
The Denver Post reported late last week that the Rockies have reached out to free-agent right-hander Brad Lidge, who grew up in Colorado and, through his agent, expressed interest in pitching for his hometown team. Lidge, who has history as a dominant closer, is coming off a 2011 season with the Phillies during which he missed time with a partially torn rotator cuff and experienced elbow issues. The Phillies have discussed bringing him back. Given his current health, it’s more likely that wherever he signs it would be under a Minor League deal. If the Rockies bring back infielder Melvin Mora, who played for them in 2010, it would be under a Minor League deal.
The Rockies are putting the final touches on a three-year signing of outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a three-year, $31.5 million contract, a Major League source confirmed to MLB.com on Friday morning.
The right-handed hitting Cuddyer, 32, hit .284 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs for the Twins last season. He has hit at least 20 homers three times in his career, including a career-high 32 in 2009. In 1,139 career games, all with the Twins, Cuddyer is a .272 hitter with 141 homers and 580 RBIs.
Cuddyer figures to fit in the lineup in left field, but also could move to first base on days Todd Helton is not in the lineup. The Rockies could use him in the No. 5 spot behind shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, or at No. 6 if the Rockies want the left-handed hitting Todd Helton to continue to bat behind Tulowitzki.
The Rockies also were looking to re-make the flavor of the clubhouse, after finishing 73-89 last season and not showing the toughness that had become a trademark of the club in recent seasons. The team has added a pair of veterans via free agency – catcher Ramon Hernandez for two years and $6.4 million, and Cuddyer.
The Rockies still aren’t likely to be done with building the 2012 roster. Left-handed hitting left fielder Seth Smith is the team’s main trading chip, who figures to be supplanted by Cuddyer, is the team’s main chip in attempts to deal to fill other holes. A key one is the need for a starting pitcher capable of 200 innings, with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa having to come back from Tommy John elbow surgery and out until sometime around June .
The Rockies rid themselves of $7 million in salary by dealing relief pitcher Huston Street to the Padres and further trimming the payroll of a projected $2.6 million when they sent arbitration-eligible third baseman Ian Stewart to the Cubs as part of a four-player trade, the Rockies achieved enough payroll relief to make an offer to an outfielder.
But signing Cuddyer means the Rockies will not be able to continue to pursue Hiroki Kuroda, a right-hander reportedly looking for a one-year deal in the $13 million range.
The Rockies began pursuing Cuddyer early in the free-agency period, but needed the market to fall into place. That occurred on Tuesday, when news surfaced that outfielder Josh Willingham moved toward accepting an offer from the Twins. The original thought Twins were not going to sign both players, but the Twins remained in the running.
According to reports, the Phillies and Mariners were still trying to sign Cuddyer as of Thursday.
The Twitter universe says Michael Cuddyer will reach an agreement with the Rockies by the end of today. From what I’ve been told, the sides continue to negotiate but the end of today my not be feasible. Terms aren’t known, but it could be lucrative: Cuddyer was reported to have a three-year deal for around $25 million from the Twins on the table. I’m reading the Mariners and Reds also have approached Cuddyer, and the Phillies — an early suitor — are involved.
If or when it does happen, don’t be surprised if left-handed hitting Seth Smith isn’t dealt quickly. Such a deal woudl clear a crowded outfield, and it would be the best way for the Rockies to fill other holes, especially pitching. Whatever the Rockies cleared in trading pitcher Huston Street to the Padres and infielder Ian Stewart to the Cubs will be spent on Cuddyer, or another outfielder if the Rockies go in that direction (such as Carlos Beltran).
Smith ranks as the best hope for acquiring a pitcher capable of 200 innings to help the rotation along until Jorge De La Rosa completes his comeback from Tommy John left elbow surgery, which should be sometime around June. Lower-cost options such as Kevin Millwood, Jeff Francis or recently non-tendered Joe Saunders will come into play, also.
As for free-agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, the chances of such a signing are doubtful considering what the Rockies will spend on the outfielder.
Turns out Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin’s mother was right about Denver’s unpredictable weather.
After Denver reached a record-high 84 degrees on Saturday, a rain-snow mix hit on Sunday and forced the final game of the season-opening series with the D-backs. No makeup date was immediately announced.
Chacin was supposed to make his first start of the season, against the D-backs’ Joe Saunders. Chacin invited his parents from Venezuela, but said his mother put off the trip until at least May because she doesn’t like bad weather.
The teams took batting practice in cold wind. By the time the postponement was announced it was rain and snow. Within minutes after announcement, it was simply snow.
Chacin, instead, will start Tuesday against the Dodgers. Righty Jason Hammel will start Wednesday in the second game of the two-game set at Coors.
Right-hander Esmil Rogers, who won the fifth starter spot in Spring Training, will start on Thursday at Pittsburgh in the Pirates’ home opener, and the first home game for current Bucs skipper and former Rockies manger Clint Hurdle. Ubaldo Jimenez, who is battling a cut cuticle on his right (pitching) thumb, is scheduled for Friday. Jorge De La Rosa, who left his first start of the season on Saturday with a blistered left middle finger, will start Saturday at Pittsburgh.
According to the Rockies, tickets from Sunday’s game are valid for the makeup, whenever it is scheduled. Exchanges may be made for any game the remainder of the season, value-for-value, as long as the exchange is made before the makeup date. There are no cash refunds.
Ticket exchanges will be accepted at Coors Field Ticket Office and all Rockies Dugout Stores.
Complimentary tickets have a value of zero dollars and may not be exchanged, and discounted tickets may be exchanged only for the amount paid to the Rockies and are subject to any constraints applicable to the original sale.
For more information, call (303) ROCKIES.